Do your feelings and emotions feel dulled? If you’ve started feeling “blah” lately, there’s a chance you’re experiencing emotional blunting.

Between 46 and 71% of antidepressant users experience blunting during treatment.

What is emotional blunting, exactly, and what treatment options are available? Keep reading to find out. In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about emotional numbness.

Then, you can review your treatment options with a doctor before seeking the help you need.

Read on to learn more about emotional numbness today. 

What is Emotional Blunting?

First, let’s answer the question that’s likely on your mind: what is emotional blunting?

This term is often used to describe limited emotional reactivity. Patients might not experience emotions at all. Others experience an unpleasant numbness rather than emotions.

A few common reasons someone might experience the blunting of emotions include:

  • Substance use
  • Psychiatric prescription medication use
  • Certain mental health disorders

Taking antidepressants can cause some patients to no longer feel like themselves. While their depression symptoms might improve, emotional inertness can occur.

Are you experiencing a dull emotional state while on antidepressants? Consider talking to a mental health professional right away.

The Symptoms

Instead of feeling up or down, emotional blunting could cause you to feel altogether numb. You might struggle to express emotions through your behaviors and face. Some people struggle to communicate their emotions in other ways, too.

Emotional blunting is common with patients who have moderate to severe depression. It can also occur alongside post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or schizophrenia.

Other emotional numbness symptoms might include:

  • Loss of sex drive
  • Forgetfulness
  • An inability to feel happy or sad
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty feeling love or affection (toward yourself or others)
  • A compulsion for reckless behavior or self-harm
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulting maintaining and forming relationships or socializing
  • Indifference (even toward activities you once enjoyed)
  • Feeling disconnected from your mind and/or body
  • Restlessness

Some patients feel less able to laugh or cry at important moments. Others begin to feel less empathy for those around them.

One survey asked adult antidepressant users if they’ve experienced effects associated with treatment. About 71% reported feeling emotional numbness. Others reported that they didn’t feel like themselves.

Feeling foggy and detached was a common side effect, too. 

About 80% of patients using SSRIs to treat depression reported blunted emotions.

Diagnosis

How exactly is emotional blunting diagnosed?

Emotional numbness is a condition, not a mental health condition. It’s usually connected to an underlying physical or mental condition. 

If these symptoms sound familiar, schedule an appointment with a mental healthcare professional. They’ll review your symptoms and medical history. They can also help you understand why you’re experiencing emotional numbness. 

Causes

There are a few different reasons someone might experience emotional blunting. Remember, it’s usually a symptom associated with an underlying condition.

For example, certain medications could reduce your ability to experience emotions. These medications might include:

  • Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs, including Cymbalta, Pristiq, and Effexor XR)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs like Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil)
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (including Elavil and Remeron)

Alexithymia could cause emotional numbness, too. Alexithymia is a mental health disorder. It’s marked by a patient’s inability to recognize emotions.

Some schizophrenia patients can experience emotional numbness. A patient might struggle to function. They could struggle to experience emotion as well.

Major depressive disorder and medications used to treat it can cause emotional blunting. Patients might experience feelings of emptiness. They might struggle to feel positive and negative emotions.

Patients with PTSD might experience dissociation when facing a triggering situation. Patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) experience intense mood changes, too. They might experience emotional numbness, dissociation, or detachment as a result. 

Alcohol use disorder and drug use could blunt a person’s ability to feel emotions as well.

Treatment

Does emotional blunting go away? Yes. It’s important to see treatment from a team of experienced professionals, though. 

If you’ve started experiencing emotional numbness, speak with a mental health professional. They can help by first addressing the underlying cause of this symptom.

A mental health professional might recommend psychotherapy, or talk therapy. You can address the mental health condition that’s causing your symptoms. Many patients with depression, BPD, or PTD use talk therapy.

Are the medications you’re taking are causing emotional numbness? Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication protocol. 

Otherwise, consider finding a facility that offers TMS treatment. 

Neurostar TMS Therapy

Some mental health facilities specialize in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

TMS is a noninvasive procedure. It uses magnetic fields to stimulate the brain’s nerve cells. It could help improve the symptoms of depression.

In fact, NeuroStar TMS is often effective when other depression treatments aren’t.

During treatment, a technician will place an electromagnetic coil against your scalp. Then, the electromagnet will deliver a magnetic pulse. This pulse can stimulate cells in the brain’s depression and mood-controlling regions.

The magnetic pulse could activate regions with decreased activity due to depression. NeuroStar TMS can help people who are suffering from depression and emotional blunting as a result.

NeuroStar TMS is safe and well-tolerated. You could experience side effects like headaches and lightheadedness, though. Make sure to receive TMS treatment from a licensed professional.

Remember, emotional blunting is common in individuals who are taking SSRIs for depression. Instead of taking more medication, consider TMS. TMS can offer an effective, alternative treatment to prescription medications.

You can learn more about TMS here.

Emotional Blunting: Finding the Help You Need

You don’t have to live your life feeling emotional numbness. Instead, consider seeking treatment for emotional blunting. A TMS center can develop a personalized treatment plan based on your distinct needs.

With their help, you can treat the root cause of your depression or underlying condition. Then, you can put an end to your emotional blunting and live life to the fullest.

Want to learn more? We’re here to help.

Contact us today to get started.